CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: Not Very Christian?
By Chris Campbell
JUNE 25, 2006 , (http://blogs.chron.com/thinkingchristian) - An interesting discussion has branched off from the main discussion of last week's stem cell blog entry. The main theme of the issue at hand really turned out to be taking the life of someone else.
More specifically the question was asked: is it OK for our society to take the lives of criminals? If someone murders another person as a criminal act is it against the Christian worldview to take their life in return. Is this justice? Is it right? Is it Christian?
To be honest with y'all I really hadn't given the theme much thought before this past week. I had always just accepted capital punishment as a fact of life, the consequences of a criminal act. I mean it sounds fair doesn't it; an eye for an eye? But then it doesn't sound very Christian does it? According to Jesus in Matthew we are to forgive an innumerable amount of times, so shouldn't this apply to murderers as well?
We could delegate it to being the government's responsibility at keeping an orderly society as per Romans, and just not worry about it; after all the government is put into place by God. The problem we run into, though, is that governments can become corrupt, or lose their Christian values that they may have previously held. In the society that we live in we can not just let things go because we have the blessing of being in a nation where we can voice our opinions and change laws. So, is capital punishment a law that we should change?
One of the commenters said that capital punishment is not very Christian. Of course taking the life of an another person is never God's wish, and it is one of God's eternal laws that really there is no question about. Ever since the murder of Abel by Cain humankind has known that God hates life taking and punishes those that do take the life of innocents. He has put governments into place to carry out his punishment on those that break the law. But do we have the right to continue the circle of killing via eye for an eye? God did not kill Cain.
Some might point to Leviticus 20 to give support to the argument that God does allow and even order the use of capital punishment to punish criminals. As most already know I would say that Leviticus is part of the Bible that does not apply directly to us but is intended for the ancient Israelites. We are not bound by those laws. Even, though, if you disagree with that point of view how far do you take Leviticus. It applies the death penalty not only for murder but also for things like sleeping with your wife during "that time of the month." Can you take one without the other when trying to apply it to today's world? But then there are some references in the New Testament that seem to approve of using capital punishment as well.
How do we make love and forgiveness mesh together with the approval and use of capital punishment by God in the past. Has the New Testament put aside killing those that kill? Should we love our enemy and protect him from death? If a criminal kills a loved one of yours, could you forgive him, and not wish for his death?